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There are a lot of things that stop you from achieving what you want out of life. In fact, I planned to write an article about them today. Trouble is, when I sat down at my computer those exact same things almost prevented me from even starting.
You see, I couldn’t come up with a title for this post. I needed it to be catchy, to ring true, to make you want to click through and read what I had to say. But as each post title came and went in my head they were either too boring, too newsy, too cliched…to the point that I nearly gave up writing the article all together. Sound familiar?
I’m talking about those little niggling things that get in the way – those drains, those doubts, those thoughts inside your head that leave you paralysed. The things that make a Fresh Start impossible. They’re telling you right now you can’t get that promotion, you can’t go on that overseas trip, or you can’t write that best seller. But, through hell and highwater I made it to writing this article today and I’m here to tell you – make 2012 the year you get control of these little suckers and start getting what you want out of life.
This is often the first stop on your journey to achieving absolutely nothing. To say I feel overwhelmed on a daily basis unfortunately wouldn’t be an exaggeration. Whether it’s looking at the schedule of posts I want to share on Pretty Fluffy, whether it’s an intimidating interview I have to do at work, or whether it’s just looking at my overflowing email inbox wondering how I’m ever going to find time to clear it – I’m no stranger to being overwhelmed.
In fact I distinctly remember the morning of my first radio spot on Hope 103.2 I told my husband I was feeling so overwhelmed that I wish I could pull a Homer Simpson and hide under a pile of coats until it was all over. But I didn’t hide under a pile of coats. I inhaled some deep breaths, took things one step at a time and I did it. And you know what? It felt great!
That’s the thing about life, it can seem so chaotic and stressful that you reach a point where you don’t know how to function. But don’t hide under the pile of coats, break things down into bit sized chunks so they seem much more managable and kick being overwhelmed to the curb.
The problem with fear is, it pops up when you least expect it. For example, you may have rid yourself of that stressed, overwhelmed feeling I just described, only to find yourself facing an even bigger roadblock – fear. I don’t even want to think of the amount of good deeds and good ideas that never came to fruition because of fear.
To break it down scientifically, fear was actually meant to be good for us. It was meant to be that intuition that saved us from the Sabre Tooth Tiger, or accepting a date with the cheating Neanderthal two caves down. But now when we apply it in our every day lives, it pops up at the most stupid times. i.e. when you are deciding on a title for a blog post. Now I’m no Nobel Prize winner, but I’ll hazard strong guess that the majority of fear we feel in our everyday lives does not relate to life threatening encounters, but is in fact smaller stuff that we need to conquer. So whether you’re asking someone out on a date, volunteering for a new project at work, learning a new sport…whatever it is BANISH THE FEAR this year. (It even rhymes)
It IS easier said than done, but my go to trick at the moment is putting what you want to achieve down on paper along with your fears, and then looking at them rationally as if someone was approaching you with this issue. For example, if a friend came to me and said “I’m writing this article which I think is a good idea, but I’m scared the title won’t be good enough, so I think I might just not do it and let fear win,” my response would be something like this – “Have you lost all your marbles? You’re willing to throw away a whole piece of work just because you can’t come up with 5-10 words to summarise it? Just do it moron.” Now you don’t have to follow the Serena Faber Nelson school of tough love, but you can see how silly you are being if you let fear hold you back.
Have you ever watched a dog decide to dig a hole, only to sit there looking at the dirt, go for a walk, sniff some flowers and come back to look at the dirt again? No. If a dog wants to dig a hole, they’re gonna dig a hole. But as I often like to say, unfortunately we’re not dogs. We need to motivate ourselves to actually do the tasks we set our minds to without creating distractions along the way. So before you start clicking over the Pinterest, Ebay and Twitter – have a think about the goal that you want to achieve. You’re no longer stressed about it, you’ve conquered the fear you had about it – now it’s time to do it.
I find two simple steps help with procrastination – envisioning the end result and setting yourself a time limit. For example, say you want to write a blog post. Sitting there with a vague idea to write will do you no favours – you’ll be playing Angry Birds before you’ve even written the intro.
What you need to do is ask yourself – Why do I want to write this post? What do I want to achieve? – and then you have a positive end point to work towards. And so you don’t get distracted, set yourself a time limit. Give yourself a hour, or two or three – whatever you think is the minimum time you need to get this thing done and then get started. Because once you reach your time limit, you’ll be on such a roll that even if you’re not finished by then you’ll want to keep going. Now writing a blog post is a small task, but by applying this method to larger goals you can ensure you’ll have your hole dug in no time.
Yikes, this one is the scariest for me. You see, by this stage you’ve calmed down, faced your fears, worked your booty off and usually are starting to see some results from all your efforts. But for a lot of us out there, we often have a feeling that our efforts aren’t good enough. Well it’s time to start realising you ARE good enough.
Perfect example is the good old new years resolution to lose weight. Make this your goal and you’ll often take charge and join a new gym, get over the sight of yourself in lycra, and commit yourself in that spin class. But a few weeks later when your body is yet to resemble a Victoria Secret’s model you start to wonder if the whole thing is worthwhile. Usually this is followed by eating a whole pack of Tim-Tams. You think, if I can’t be perfect, what’s the point in trying?
Well, do you know what the point is? You’re not meant to be perfect. You’re meant to be the best YOU you can be. And to do that you have to focus and keep trying. Was the first version of the Apple iPhone perfect? No, but it still was one of the most popular gadgets of all time. Was the movie Titanic perfect? No, the CGI by today’s standards are a little laughable – that didn’t stop its record making win of 11 Oscars. Is your dog perfect? No, they probably just ate something they shouldn’t have and threw up on your new rug – but you love them all the same.
The point I’m trying to make here is perfection is in the eye of the beholder. It you’re constantly reaching for it you’ll always fall short and that’s no way to achieve your dreams. Try to make this year one where you are realistic with your goals and enjoy your achievements. Make 2012 your time to shine! Now if you could just help me out with a title for this article…
What holds you back from achieving your goals? How do you plan to overcome this in 2012?